How COVID has changed… trade shows

How COVID has changed...

May 3rd, 2021 By Jack Morton

With live events finally set to return in more parts of the world, we thought it would be interesting to see how the different areas of our work have been impacted in the last year.

In this “How Covid Has Changed” content series, we asked some of our top experts about their respective areas of focus and how brands will need to adapt moving forward. Here is what they had to say….

Question: When it comes to trade shows, what do you think is the single biggest consideration for brands to consider for their post-pandemic live experiences?

how covid has changed trade showsStrategy. That might sound like an over-simplification but why you are attending a trade show and what your primary goals and objectives are, need to be at the forefront of your planning. Brands need to be purposeful and focused when it comes to how to present themselves in a post-pandemic exhibit environment.

What you build and how to message within the physical space are the biggest considerations. We know that live exhibits are returning and brands might already be locked into spaces, meaning the footprint you needed more than a year ago might not be ideal, but it’s the one you are stuck with, for good or bad. As a result, you need to make the most of that space to meet your objectives.

Brands need to be selective about what exactly their trade show experience should be. And today, that might mean dialing back on the things you have done in the past, like squeezing an entire portfolio of products into a single space. Instead maybe it’s time to be focused  and selective on what to market either based on something new, something improved or something secondary. It might even be time to push for more targeted messaging.

Brands really need to look at how to make the investment in a trade show work best for them. For example, if you traditionally attended exhibits with lead generation in mind, depending on the event, that might prove to be more challenging, especially with attendance restrictions, so you might want to narrow down your activities to get to that goal faster.

Also, brands need to consider who will be attending these events live and who won’t. We still expect some key decision makers to be remote but they’ll still expect to partake in the experience, so what will that hybrid environment look like? What parts of your customer journey need to be live, which parts don’t? How can you make both exciting for physical and digital audiences?

The other strategic pillar to think about is how to use technology. We’ll see more low touch exhibits and more digital assets – like e-literature that’s emailed directly to participants or can be scanned via QR codes for download. How do those affect your experience journey? Exhibits will have to be designed with these in mind. Less clunky touch exhibits, more clean voice or motion activated displays, all of which might impact the how you design and plan out your space.

The bottom line is that square feet doesn’t equal engagement anymore. Trade show exhibits need be thought through carefully putting the who, what, when, why when and how first. The strategy of what you are trying to accomplish is what’s really going to dictate your exhibit experience.

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